Fighting B.A.C.K.: Sandra Grazzini-Rucki with Guest Neil Shelton: “You Cannot Go Through This Battle Unscathed”

Listen Online:Fighting B.A.C.K. with Neil Shelton, Growing UP Mayberry

Original Air Date: Monday, May 8, 2017

Host Sandra Grazzini-Rucki interviews Neil Shelton of “Growing Up Mayberry”.

Mount Airy, North Carolina aka “Maybery” is the fictional setting for the all-American hometown portrayed in “The Andy Griffith Show” it has now become infamous for the extreme injustices inflicted on Neil Shelton. The dark side of Mayberry has been exposed…Andy Griffith and Don Knotts (Barney Fife) must be rolling in their graves!

Neil is the victim of a conspiracy involving his ex-wife and her attorney Sarah Stevens, a powerful state legislator, who sought to destroy him in a divorce. Neil has been forcefully separated from his children, stripped of everything he owns, financially devastated to the point that he became homeless, arrested 79 times on false charges by the Mayberry police (but never convicted) and falsely imprisoned. Neil has survived this incredible ordeal is fighting back!

Neil has since filed a civil lawsuit, seeking damages against the State of North Carolina, including 10 public figures and agencies, including Sarah Stevens. Neil has also helped to build “Future of Children” radio network, along with other hosts.

Click on this link to listen in: Fighting B.A.C.K. with Neil Shelton, Growing UP Mayberry

Neil Shelton

Read More:

Growing UP Mayberry Facebook

From Neil Shelton: Restraining Order Abuse, false psych hold and false arrests

William Neil Shelton’s very ugly divorce takes a new turn (Michael Volpe, CDN News)

Mount Airy resident sues state legislator, others

Fighting B.A.C.K. with Deborah (Goodman) Stacy: “I shouldn’t be tortured or punished for doing the right thing…”

Public Domain Image: http://www.magic4walls.com. Edited by Justice Blog.

That I couldn’t believe.. in essence they’re not letting you get divorced, all those years. And that bothered me because it’s almost like a violation of your civil rights. I have a right to get divorced. I have a right to move on with my life, how I chose to, and not be judged. I give 110% of myself to my children and I shouldn’t be tortured or punished for doing the right thing or for putting money away and making sure that I can provide for my children….why would they want to hurt children?” ~ Deborah (Goodman) Stacy commenting on the family court system in Rockland County

Listen Online: Fighting B.A.C.K. with Deborah (Goodman) Stacy – Screwed by Rockland Courts

Original Air Date: Monday, May 1, 2017

Tune in to “Fighting B.A.C.K.” with Sandra Grazzini-Rucki to hear the story of Deborah (Goodman) Stacy, a courageous mother of two children who has been fighting against injustice in the family court of Rockland County, New York for the last 7 years.

A temporary custody order was issued by Judge Berliner in 2010 but custody has never been finalized, the case continues to linger in the court system with Deborah and the children hanging in limbo. Deborah currently retains physical custody of the children but has not been officially granted any custodial rights (physical or legal custody). Andreas Lempa, ex husband, lives overseas and has no relationship with the children by his own choice”.

Topics discussed include: the outrageous and illegal actions of Judge Victor J. Alfieri Jr., misconduct by Family Law Guardians/Guardian ad Litem and retaliation against parents who raise complaints against family court and its judges, GALs and other professionals.

Judge Victor J. Alfieri, Jr.

UPDATE:

Journalist Michael Volpe just released an article about the Goodman case:

GOODMAN DIVORCE RULING ISSUED: HOUSEWIFE TOLD TO SPLIT ASSETS WITH EX-HUSBAND

Judge Berliner has recently issued an order in the Goodman case from a trial that happened over a year ago.

Deborah, a housewife, has been ordered to pay a $300,000 divorce settlement to be paid to ex-husband, Andreas Lempa.  Lempa earns a six figure income annually; he is ordered to pay child support but does not pay spousal support.

Deborah says Judge Berliner issued the settlement without considering all the facts, including that money now being considered as a marital asset is in fact part of her own savings, that existed before the divorce, making it a non-marital asset. .

In addition, Andreas admitted during a deposition that he moved money out of his own investment account before the hearing, giving it a low balance. The total balance of the investment account was not included in the equitable distribution of the divorce. even though he is clearly hiding assets. 

A reader comments on the article that, “‘I think a more appropriate title would have been “Housewife told to split HER assets with ex husband, who was allowed to suppress his.‘”

Deborah believes the court ruling was issued to punish her for speaking out about the problems existing in the Rockland County family court.

Also Read:

Facebook: Justice in Rockland Courts

SCREWED BY ROCKLAND COURTS — DEB GOODMAN TELLS HER STORY

Fighting B.A.C.K. – Sandra Grazzini-Rucki Hosts Radio Show with Guest Kristy Newberry Brooks

SANDRA GRAZZINI-RUCKI TO HOST RADIO SHOW WITH GUEST KRISTY NEWBERRY BROOKS

LISTEN ON BLOGTALK: Fighting B.A.C.K. with Host Sandra Grazzini-Rucki Episode 1

DATE: February 2, 2017 

TIME: 9 pm EST

Call in to speak with the host: (516) 387-1481

DESCRIPTION: Sandra Grazzini-Rucki is Fighting B.A.C.K. with Guest Kristy Newberry Brooks. Family court failures, child abuse, and the great risks a mother will take to protect her child after the system fails will be discussed from two courageous women who have experienced the corruption first-hand.

Kristy Newberry Brooks, of Union County, North Carolina,went into hiding in December 2015 after the family court system, CPS, police have all failed to protect her daughter from physical, emotional and sexual abuse. The alleged perpetrator, her ex, is accused of abusing multiple victims. Brooks says she was in fear for her daughter’s safety after her ex was awarded custody. Brooks says that when the system failed, she had no choice but to go into hiding in an effort to protect her daughter.

Kristy Newberry Brooks (Charlotte Observer)

Kristy Newberry Brooks (Charlotte Observer)

Another aspect to this tragic case is that Brooks was unable to afford legal representation, and has been fighting pro se against incredible odds. “I’ve taken every legal avenue to protect my daughter and nobody will help,” Brooks said, “I have contacted everybody, anybody; written letters, emails. Nobody has done anything.”

Brooks has been involved in a 4-year long custody battle, and says the case should have gone to criminal court. Instead evidence of abuse was dismissed by those charged with protecting her daughter. The infamous DSS Worker Wanda Sue Larson was supervising the Brooks case. Larson was later charged with child abuse in 2014 after a foster child was found tied to her porch with a dead chicken tied around his neck as a form of punishment. Larson, and her live-in boyfriend pleaded guilty to several child abuse charges and were sentenced to 17 months and at least six years in jail, respectively. But Larson was granted time served and released from prison nine days after she pleaded guilty in March 2015. The foster child was placed back into the care of his biological mother. He is now suing Larson. Wanda Larson Sued By Former Foster Son Over Horrific Abuse

Kristy has posted some evidence supporting her claims online, including this video:

 

Brooks surrendered to U.S. Marshalls on January 30th; her daughter was with her and since has been given to the care of her father. Brooks has been charged with child abduction and contempt of court. Union County Senator Fern Schubert put up money for her bond because he believes so strongly in her innocence, that her actions were taken to protect her child.

Tune in to hear the remarkable story of Kristy Newberry Brooks, and to hear more from Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, a woman fighting to survive a system bent on destroying her:  Fighting B.A.C.K. with Host Sandra Grazzini-Rucki Episode 1

 

Also visit:

Future of Our Children Radio on facebook: Future of Children Radio on Facebook

Sandra “Sam” Grazzini-Rucki facebook support page: Sandra “Sam” Grazzini-Rucki facebook page

 

 

Straight Outta Mayberry Gets Straight Up About Family Court with Sandra Grazzini-Rucki (Future Of Our Children Radio)

Listen Online: Straight Outta Mayberry presents Sandra Grazzini-Rucki – January 19, 2017

Host Neil Shelton and Sandra Grazzini-Rucki discuss the terrible toll family court has on the parents and the children who suffer when the “best interest” of judges and family court professionals are put ahead of the “best interest” of children and families.

A divorce proceeding should not result in a parent being divorced from their own children… where is the “family” in family court?” ~ Sandra Grazzini-Rucki

Systemic failures in the court system including greed, corruption and violations of due process are also discussed.

They’ve taken away everything they can possibly take from us except our voices…” ~ Neil Shelton

Tune in to hear the two most mistreated and misunderstood people in this battle talk in a one on one conversation about everything that is Family Court.

wantedposter2a

 

 

 

 

Grazzini-Rucki Case Discussed On NAASCA Talk Show – “Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely”

Listen in on Blog Talk Radio: “Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely” – Grazzini-Rucki Case Discussed

christmas

Comments:There is a mother and 5 children who have been irreparably damaged here…

“The victims and the mother went to the system and law enforcement for protection, they were abused by the system again, on top of the abuse by the father...”

SPECIAL TOPIC  – “For Our Kids” – Deborah Maddison and Eugenea Couture, Canadian activists from British Columbia, will join Bill Murray to lead this evening’s discussion about the Rights of Children and Families in North America.

“Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely” ~~ Why should judges be allowed to abuse their power and violate the laws and rights they are sworn to uphold?

Judge David L Knutson

Judge David L Knutson Presided Over Grazzini-Rucki Family Court Case

Tonight we look at one of the most corrupt and unbelievable divorce and custody cases we’ve ever seen in North America. The Grazzini-Rucki case has been voraciously covered so many of you may think you know what happened from the many distorted media reports that have been put out but we assure you that the real facts of this case are beyond shocking.

Join us tonight for an inside look on this story on the “For Our Kids” show as we speak with journalist and co-author of the book ‘Sandra Grazzi-Rucki and The World’s Last Custody Trial’, Michael Volpe. Michelle MacDonald, Sandra Rucki’s Attorney and co-author of the book, will also be joining us to provide an inside look at this trial and the outrageous abuses that occurred. Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and the World’s Last Custody Trial

We’re also pleased to welcome Dr. Jill Jones-Soderman, Director of Foundation of the Child Victims of the Family Courts to bring her unique perspective as to what really went on in this case and who the Real victims and offenders are.

Please see our web page at: www.NAASCA.org/ForOurKids or write to: naasca.forourkids@gmail.com

Media Mayhem: Has Stahl and Brodkorb Gone Too Far Reporting on the Grazzini-Rucki Case??

Public Domain: pdpics.com

Corruption in the Grazzini-Rucki case has reached epic proportions – affecting all levels of government in Dakota County and Minnesota, and even influencing local media coverage of the case. 

Journalists should abide by ethics and standards so that their reporting is accurate, fair and does not cause undue harm to its subjects. Just the opposite happened when Brandon Stahl and Michael Brodkorb (who now works exclusively for David Rucki, promoting his interest in social media posts and blog articles) began covering the case for the Star Tribune.

A repost from Red Herring Alert suggests the behavior of reporters Brandon Stahl, and Michael Brodkorb, in their coverage of  the Grazzini-Rucki case was unethical and exploitative. Further, Stahl and Brodkorb’s appearance at the Ranch in the hours before the Rucki girls were recovered suggests a leak in the Lakeville police that tipped them off to sensitive information on an open investigation that, by law, should not have been released. Did the presence of these rogue reporters compromise the investigation?

Brandon Stahl (Source: https://wn.com) 

From Red Herring Alert: “Sources tell us that an unmarked vehicle with  its flashers on was the first to arrive on the scene on Wednesday, November 18, 2015, the day that law enforcement officials located S. Rucki and G. Rucki.

It is further reported on Red Herring Alert that Doug Dahlen, who lives at the home where the girls were located,  arrived home to find a vehicle with its flashers on, parked on a gravel road.  Not knowing who was in the vehicle, he stopped to inquire if the driver was OK.  The vehicle sat there for 3 hours before law enforcement arrived.  Brandon Stahl was in the vehicle and went to the door asking for an interview.  He gave Mr. Dahlen his business card, identifying himself as Brandon Stahl of the Star Tribune.

It is deeply disturbing to know how law enforcement has tipped off local media to parts of the investigation, prior to any public reports from the officials.  Isn’t it pathetic that the Star Tribune sat there for 3 hours prior to the arrival of law enforcement?  3 hours!

It is unclear if the reporters were tipped off by law enforcement or someone else. Brodkorb says about his role in discovering the whereabouts of the runaway Rucki girls, “Over the summer, my sources provided information that led me to a location near where the girls were found less than two weeks ago. I’m convinced that if I had knocked on one too many doors, I might have made it more difficult for law enforcement to find S and G.Michael Brodkorb: Why I wrote about the Rucki case

Brodkorb also says, “The contacts I had made in the political world ended up being very helpful in generating leads on the Rucki case…Michael Brodkorb: Minnesota Politics and Beyond

Another concerning incident involves Michael Brodkorb contacting a witness, and influencing her view of the case BEFORE police contacted this person. The testimony of this witness was later used to help build a case against Sandra Grazzini-Rucki: Potential State Witness Wrote Letter to Judge Knutson – Criticizing Court’s Failure to Protect Rucki Children from Abuse

Has Stahl and Brodkorb gone too far in their reporting of the Grazzini-Rucki case?

 

READ THE FULL ARTICLE FROM RED HERRING ALERT BELOW:

 

“Interesting, No?” Posted on the Red Herring Alert on November 21, 2015 by Susan:

Local media coverage of the missing Rucki girls has been politically motivated.  It is very clear.

It is interesting to note that Michael Brodkorb, who always claimed his sole motivation was to find the missing girls, has not written anything about them being found last Wednesday, but on Thursday, did post an article about Michelle MacDonald.

No post about his relief that the girls were found.  No post with relief that the girls can tell their story.  No post reporting how relieved the father is.  Nope.  Just simply an article that shows his antipathy of Michelle MacDonald.

As a matter of fact, coverage by Brodkorb fell off after August 24, 2015, which is odd because the case was just ramping up after a warrant was issued for Sandra Grazzini-Rucki on August 19, 2015.

Brodkorb’s recent articles on the missing Rucki sisters:

Sources tell us that an unmarked vehicle with  its flashers on was the first to arrive on the scene on Wednesday, November 18, 2015, the day that law enforcement officials located S. Rucki and G. Rucki.

It is further reported to Red Herring Alert that Doug Dahlen, who lives at the home where the girls were located,  arrived home to find a vehicle with its flashers on, parked on a gravel road.  Not knowing who was in the vehicle, he stopped to inquire if the driver was OK.  The vehicle sat there for 3 hours before law enforcement arrived.  Brandon Stahl was in the vehicle and went to the door asking for an interview.  He gave Mr. Dahlen his business card, identifying himself as Brandon stahl of the Star Tribune.

 

Michael Brodkorb, source: startribune.com

Michael Brodkorb, source: startribune.com

Our sources also tell us that law enforcement treated the girls very well, and promised to listen to what they have to say.

It is deeply disturbing to know how law enforcement has tipped off local media to parts of the investigation, prior to any public reports from the officials.  Isn’t it pathetic that the Star Tribune sat there for 3 hours prior to the arrival of law enforcement?  3 hours!

This writer (Susan) appeared on Tim Kinley’s show Speechless MN, on October 29th to talk about the Rucki case.  Tim made an observation about the media’s handling of Family Court:

Let’s face it. Divorced parents are treated as second class citizens in every state in the nation. No one cares if your child is withheld from you.  The interest in the Rucki case would have received little attention, if not for the fact that the GOP needs Michelle MacDonald to go away.  She came within 7 points of winning a seat on the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2014.  If you listened to Ron Rosenbaum’s show last Thursday, you can hear his obsession with Michelle MacDonald.  Dede Evavold will be posting about that soon.

We also know that the Minnesota Family Court would like MacDonald to go away, as well.  She is bad for business as usual in the courts.  To have her disbarred for this case would make many people very happy, but the truth is, she came in after the case was a mess.  If Michelle MacDonald were to be disbarred for this, let’s hope that Lisa Henry would be, too. She was the lawyer who participated in the phone conference with Judge David Knutson, and was too timid to tell Judge Knutson that it was unlawful for him to throw Sandra out of her home with less than two hours notice.

Judge David L Knutson (source: http://lionnews00.blogspot.com)

Judge David L Knutson (source: http://lionnews00.blogspot.com)

In all my years of Family Court experience, that began with my own ordeal in 1998 and spanned eight long years, I have not seen any kind of intervention when children are withheld from a loving parent.

Tim Kinley mentioned the Caroline Rice case (accidentally referred to her as Susan Rice, but it is Caroline).  You can read about the Rice case and the appeal.

Minnesota Court Overturns Mom’s Conviction Sends Message of Hope

Caroline Rice Appeals Court Decision Minnesota

In my opinion, the Rucki case was driven by political vitriol and the courts fail to do what they can to ensure both parents are allowed to spend time with their children.  They also fail to protect children from abusive parents, who can be a mother or a father.  Readers will have to draw their own conclusion about these issues.

I recommend readers watch the full episode of Speechless MN with Tim Kinley, and check out other pertinent videos on Tim’s Speechless MN You Tube Channel!

Footprints in the Snow or Wild Goose Chase? Did ABC 20/20 Edit Audio Recordings to Suppress Evidence of Abuse in the Grazzini-Rucki Case? Pt. 2

Did ABC 20/20 edit audio recordings of David Rucki verbally abusing his young son, to portray David in a more sympathetic light? And what message does their reporting send to abuse victims, to child abuse victims?

Part One of this Series: http://wp.me/p7FXmj-2F

Attacking Zone: Clues in the Hockey References?

The next scene shows a lone David, standing in the snow, looking towards his house.

Vargas says, “He left this message after finding out his son, Nico, dropped out of hockey, his favorite long time sport.” The message from David says, “Do yourself a favor, get your ass back in hockey!”

ABC 20/20 and Vargas had obviously listened to the voicemail messages, a transcript of the messages was also available. Vargas implied that something was wrong for Nico to drop out of “his favorite long time sport.” The truth is that Nico wasn’t all that interested in hockey, and wanted to pursue acting.

David wanted Nico to continue with hockey, and hated the thought of his son becoming an actor. One voicemail David left to Nico says, “You’re making the biggest mistake of your life. You’ve got nothing other than school and sports. You can have acting, you can do all that shit, but the bottom line is Nico, you fuck this up, you never get it back.” recorded voice mail messages

Why was David so intent on having Nico participate in hockey. In my **opinion** there are two reasons. 1) David was serving as President to the local hockey association and needed to have his own children playing hockey in order to be eligible for the position. 2) David enjoyed the social aspects of hanging out at the hockey rink, drinking, and having fun. If his children were not enrolled in hockey, he would not have access to that social group.

In July 2011, David resigned from his position as President of the hockey association for “personal reasons”.  Controversy followed – there was talk that David was mismanaging the finances and abusing his position as President. In the same month that David resigned three other Board members resigned, including David’s best friend and his wife, who also served on the Board. Another Board member was removed for his role in the controversy.

Locals discuss the controversy regarding the hockey association, and David’s role in it, at this discussion board: http://www.ushsho.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=515265&sid=10e573ea5427f01484d303ab387bafe9

In my **opinion** it does not make sense that on one hand David is claiming that he is being alienated from his children, and yet his focus in the voicemails is only about hockey. You do not hear David say things like ‘I love you’ or ‘I miss you’ or ‘I can’t wait to see you again’ or even asking his son how he is doing. Instead you hear threats, shaming, guilt, and coercion – which are all tactics abusers use to gain power and control over victims.

And then to have David pressure Nico to participate in hockey also does not make sense. If Nico were to join hockey he’d spend most of his time practicing and playing games – which would taken even more time away from spending time with his father, David. Why would David encourage Nico to spend LESS time with him??

What Voicemail Transcripts Submitted in Court as Evidence Reveal

The short excerpts played on “Footprints” in the snow omitted 99% of the entire recordings. The viewers did not get to hear much of anything. Supplemented by the heavy editing was Vargas pushing her own narrative, almost as if she was drowning out the rest of the voicemail messages from being heard.

Elizabeth Vargas, journalist and anchor, ABC 20/20

Elizabeth Vargas, journalist and anchor, ABC 20/20

Vargas also failed to ask Nico about the voicemail messages because she was focused on questioning Nico about whether his mother put him up to inventing abuse allegations. Vargas must have heard the voicemail messages but she does not question Nico about them, and how it made him feel? Why?

These same voice mail messages, and others, were submitted to the family court, presided by Judge David Knutson,  in 2011 as evidence. The evidence included audio recordings, and included a written transcript of the messages as well. The voice mail messages were used to confirm that abuse was occurring, and that David’s behavior posed a danger to the children. The messages were just one piece of a much larger body of evidence suggesting abuse had occurred. Judge Knutson dismissed ALL credible evidence of abuse, without merit or legal justification.

The message Vargas refers to is titled “Message Six” and begins with, “If you have the balls to listen to this message, you’re going to find out that you’re going to regret every stupid decision you have made this summer listening to your mother…” David goes on to berate Nico, make negative and insulting comments about Sandra and uses guilt and shame tactics to manipulate Nico to do what he (David) wants.

The same message ends with this statement from David, “Your mother is holding me out with the court. There’s nothing I can do until I get through the court. Do yourself a favor and get your ass back into hockey. Don’t screw this up for yourself. You’ll regret it your whole life. And you’re going to regret it when you find out that it was your mother who lied to you.”’

For more info about the voicemail messages, plz read: Rucki Enraged: Voicemail Transcripts Reveal Threats, Emotional Abuse Against Son

In my **opinion**, if you carefully listen to what David is saying in his voicemail messages – he is telling Nico that once he gets through the court, he will have access to him, he will deal with Nico’s refusal to comply. David makes statements in his voicemail recordings that imply threats, that imply punishment and state that the only way to please his father is to do what he wants.

Statements tainclude:

I’m waiting, um, I’m still your dad, and that isn’t going to change, and we will be together soon. And I’m basically going to tell you I’m going to hold you accountable and you will have to deal with me because, you know, the way you’re treating me is wrong.

Nico, it’s your dad, still wondering why you are not going to captain’s practice. Why are you dropping out of hockey? You’re not hurting me. You’re going to regret it for the rest of your g—d damn f—ing life and I’m trying to prevent that.

What the f– is wrong with you? You know what? You f– don’t understand.

I’m just calling to remind you that you will regret this your whole life by not following through with what you started. Secondly, I am your father and I guarantee, Nico, that we will be talking soon. And when we talk, you’re going to be held accountable for how you’re acting. And I wil not let this fly. I am your father. And you will respect me.

Um, you know, I wish you would pull your head out your a– and you’d call me back and talk because you need to get some stabilization in you, because what you’re doing is self-destructive and it’s not good, it’s not healthy. A

I’m waiting, um, I’m still your dad, and that isn’t going to change, and we will be together soon. And I’m basically going to tell you I’m going to hold you accountable and you will have to deal with me because, you know, the way you’re treating me is wrong.

Nico, it’s your dad, still wondering why you are not going to captain’s practice. Why are you dropping out of hockey? You’re not hurting me. You’re going to regret it for the rest of your g—d damn f—ing life and I’m trying to prevent that.

What the f– is wrong with you? You know what? You f– don’t understand.

I’m just calling to remind you that you will regret this your whole life by not following through with what you started. Secondly, I am your father and I guarantee, Nico, that we will be talking soon. And when we talk, you’re going to be held accountable for how you’re acting. And I wil not let this fly. I am your father. And you will respect me.

Um, you know, I wish you would pull your head out your a– and you’d call me back and talk because you need to get some stabilization in you, because what you’re doing is self-destructive and it’s not good, it’s not healthy. And you know, eventually, we will be together here talking soon. Um, so you can run and hide all you want, but the sooner you confront this, the better off you’ll be.

Here’s one thing you need to think about: You’ve got one shot at life. One. And if you’re not guided properly, Nico, you will piss that away because you’re 15 years old and you don’t know your head from your a–. You’ve got a lot to learn in life. You make a mistake now, you’ll never get it back. Because you are being emotional like your mother, you will never get it back. I’m tired of all this crap I’ve been put through…

This is very extreme language, that is NOT an appropriate way to communicate to a child. It is abusive.

Why did ABC 20/20 and Elizabeth Vargas suppress these voicemail recordings? The viewers should have been allowed to hear for themselves, and come to their own conclusions. Instead the viewers were given a nicely packaged story concocted by ABC 20/20, and dramatically narrated by Vargas. The irony in all of this, is that these invented stories are no different than the alienation that Sandra is accused of.

“When someone hears about child abuse, it’s easy to assume the abuse is physical, but child abuse can also come in the emotional form. Child emotional abuse includes but isn’t limited to verbal assaults, constant belittling, making threats, ignoring the child, providing no love and exposing the child to constant family conflict.” Source: Moody Air Force Base. http://media.defense.gov

Fact or Pigeon?

The next scene from  “Footprints in the Snow” shows a courtroom and Vargas delves into a narrative of how Judge David Knutson appointed therapist to try to facilitate a relationship between David Rucki and his children.

A picture of a smiling David composed next to an order for reunification therapy, the courts suggesting Moxie, fills the screen. The court appoints an advocate, and special therapists to facilitate a relationship with their father, “the children say they don’t want one”.

Only now does Vargas mention abuse – but note the context she uses. “Nico takes to facebook, he writes my dad is a bad person, he abusive, verbally and physically…”

Didn’t the producers at ABC 20/20 and Vargas overhear some of the verbal abuse in the voicemail messages? Yet they failed to ask David about that. And failed to draw the connection between what Nico reported and what actually happened – that these recordings were in David’s own words!

Vargas goes to on talk about abuse of the runaway Rucki sisters in this way, “Gianna and Samantha make audio recordings to support what their mother says…”

Samantha’s recording is obviously emotional, her voice is choked with tears as she recounts physical abuse at the hands of her father. Vargas seems unsympathetic. 

Vargas goes on to report that Judge David Knutson found there is no proof of abuse, and the expert he appointed found “evidence of parental alienation”.  Judge Knutson decides that Sandra is the problem, and takes drastic measures.

Judge David L Knutson

Judge David L Knutson

The message being sent to victims of domestic violence, and child abuse, by ABC 20/20 and Vargas is harmful – it says if you disclose abuse, you will not be believed. Even worse, it casts suspicion on the children who bravely come forward – accusing the child victim that something is wrong with them, that they are “brainwashed”. All of this without investigation. Or if there is a report or investigation, claims of abuse are dismissed.

Abuse involves a pattern of threatening and harmful behavior inflicted on another person. When the relationship ends, the abusive behavior does not merely go away but continues in another form. There is also a term called Domestic Violence by Proxy which means that when an abusive partner no longer has access to a victim, he will try to regain control by using the children as a weapon. DV by Proxy describes abusive behavior that continues post separation – controlling behavior, stalking, harassment, legal abuse, turning a child against a parent – are all ways children are used by an abusive ex partner to regain control or inflict harm on a former partner. When court professionals fail to recognize the abuse, and how it manifests after separation, their actions and court rulings result in further harm to abuse victims, and their children. Misinformation about abuse, in turn, affects every level of society, including media outlets because there is a common presumption that judges never do wrong, that courts are always right. This is difficult for a victim of abuse to overcome; and it prevents our community from understanding abuse, and its effects, in a way that could promote ending the cycle of violence, and could assist in offering better protections to victims. 

Footprints on My Heart

An emotional Sandra, on the verge of tears, tells Vargas, “I’ve never done anything but be there for my children… my children are my life.

If anything positive is to come out of “Footprints in the Snow” I hope it is this… that wherever Sandra’s children are now, that they remember the memories shown in the home movies where mom is loving on them, and they are enjoying time spent together.

I hope her children know what Sandra has said, that the hurt and lies and forcible separation will not erase this truth: “my children are my life.” 

I hope the Rucki children know how much they are deeply loved by a mother who grieves the loss of them everyday, and who has never stopped fighting to protect them from harm and be involved in their lives. 

Because that is what I saw, as a viewer, watching “Footprints in the Snow”. And the outrage of this story is that a mother’s love and efforts to protect her children, resulted in punishment and forcible separation from those very children.